Michael Jackson: Flawed Genius
I pretty much stopped thinking about Michael Jackson in 2005 after his famous trial, when he was acquitted of child molestation charges. In my mind, regardless of the outcome, something had gone on at Neverland between Jackson and children – and it probably wasn’t anywhere near as G-rated as he and his lawyers claimed.
Yet I recall thinking that the public humiliation and financial hardship he suffered had definitely punished him enough. To be the King of Pop and have your name dragged through the dirt, forever associated with such a hateful act, is as demeaning as any prison sentence would have been.
Understandably, the outcome of the trial didn’t satisfy those who claimed he hurt them, but I was always a bit suspicious of the charges and the people who brought them. There was plenty of sleeze all around.
But since his sudden death last week, which has shocked me, not an hour has not passed since I have not thought about him, his genius and his legacy. How much pleasure he and his music gave me when I was a kid in the 80s and he had one hit after another. His famous trial barely registers in my mind.
Reading and watching all the coverage about his life, I can’t help but be sympathetic; clearly, Jackson had his demons stemming from his famous over-the-top childhood stardom, his demanding (to say the least) father and a supersized life infused with too much money and too many greedy hangers-on. Too much of everything.
But there’s no arguing about the breadth and depth of his talent — from his moonwalk and dazzling choreography to his unforgettable music and plaintive lyrics to his on-target brilliance as a pure entertainer.
In the car the other day, I stumbled across a special Michael Jackson tribute channel on Sirius XM radio.
I couldn’t stop listening, amazed at how so many of his songs have a permanent place in my mind, how effortlessly I am able to mouth so many of his brilliant lyrics.
Unlike most of us, Michael Jackson never needed anyone’s help finding his calling.
He was a once-in-a-lifetime talent, a genius who did what he loved with passion and intensity that must command everyone’s respect.
No matter how old or young you are, when a Jackson song comes on the radio you’ll recognize his distinctive voice and lyrics.
What a career.